Bankruptcy in Washington, North Carolina is a court procedure through which a person or business who is unable to pay their debt is able to have some of their debt legally excused, or "discharged." This theoretically allows the debtor to move on with a clean slate. Of course, one should never view bankruptcy as a "get out of debt free" card, allowing someone to be discharged of their requirement to pay their debts just because they don't want to. It is meant to serve as a lifeline, preventing uncontrollable debt from resulting in complete financial ruin. Accordingly, it is best treated as an option of last resort, because it can carry with it significant negative consequences, which must be weighed against the possible benefits. For example, filing for bankruptcy can heavily damage a person's credit rating.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Washington, North Carolina bankruptcy attorney, who can advise you of the costs and benefits of bankruptcy. Because the decision to file for bankruptcy depends very heavily on the facts of each individual case, the advice of a Washington bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Washington, North Carolina
In Washington, North Carolina, 3 types of bankruptcy procedures are in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Being governed by federal law, the procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy in Washington, North Carolina will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of many of the debtor's assets in order to pay off as much of the debt as possible. This sounds harsh, but there is an upside: once the liquidation is complete, the debts are legally viewed as having been paid in full, whether or not the full amount was covered by the liquidation. Liquidation involves selling some personal property, and using the funds to pay off debt. Numerous types of property are exempt from liqudiation, and therefore may not need to be sold. They include homes, cars, and insurance policies, among others. You should know that some types of debt cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including taxes, student loans, and child support.
The other largely used bankruptcy system in Washington is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is authorized by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the arrangements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is typically a better option for people who have a steady income. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is generally used by businesses, though it can be used by individuals (which is quite rare). Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan - typically telling the court how they propose to cut costs, streamline their operations, and pay their debts. This plan must be authorized by the participating creditors through a simple majority vote.
One major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Moreover, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Washington Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to examine all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Washington cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Washington bankruptcy attorney beforehand.